In early 2017, I was in my 4th year of working as a sustainability and women’s leadership consulting partner to the fashion icon Eileen Fisher. Eileen had just become a B Corp, and one of my favorite friends on the planet, Steph Ryan – who was an early B Corp employee called me and said, “I have a new assignment to help the CEOs of the larger B Corps (EILEEN FISHER is half-billion in sales roughly) to host conversations with their peers. Do you think Eileen would like to do something?” I knew Eileen was way into supporting women’s leadership and empowerment, so I asked her, “what do you think about us hosting a gathering of the women CEOs of BCorps? It’s never been done.” Eileen said, “GREAT!”. And we were off.
Suffice to say for now that the women came, and they were over the moon ecstatic to be together. This was their tribe: not only fellow women and CEO’s meaning they understood the unique challenges of that confluence. But also, they were all B Corps, meaning they knew that they shared a deep and proven commitment to business as a force for good.
There were about 100 of us in the room and you could feel the buzz, and after introductions, we began our gathering with the question, “What can we do together that none of us can do alone?” To paraphrase Lin-Manuel Miranda in Hamilton, “we wanted more than a moment we wanted to create a movement!”
Two other women Rose Yee and Kim Coupounas joined me after that first day to lead what we named WeTheChange: Women Leading Business for Good. We knew we needed a statement of shared intent, a Manifesto of sorts, which we called a Womanifesto. It took us close to 9 months to get it right and at our second annual gathering in May of 2019 of 121 women present, we got 120 signatures. Not too bad! Including women like Eileen, Rose Marcario CEO of Patagonia, Nancy Green CEO of Athleta.
The declaration begins by saying “We are Women leaders of B Corps and other purpose-driven organizations, creating a radically inclusive and richly regenerative global economy.” From those first 120 signatures, we’ve now grown to over 760 signatures and Women of WeTheChange community.
Our mission is to amplify our voice as a force for good in policy and in business and to increase the concentration of WtC—values aligned Women leaders in positions of power and influence. We support each other’s businesses through shared commerce. For example, I hired one of our WtC women to do two new websites for me. We look to each other first to build and grow our businesses. And we support policymakers who put people and planet as well as prosperity first.
Are you a woman leader? Learn more about WeTheChange.